MWC keynote: The road to 5G-advanced begins this year

MWC keynote: The road to 5G-advanced begins this year

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The arrival of 5G-advanced (or 5.5G) has been a key theme throughout Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year with several companies aiming to address the ongoing development of 5G technology.

Huawei, particularly, has been keen on addressing what it prefers to call 5.5G, releasing several products to open up F5.5G for commercial use.

This includes the industry’s first DC-oriented OTN product, OptiX OSN 98000 K36, the industry’s first intelligent OLT product, OptiXaccess MA5800T and the industry’s first FTTR+X product, iFTTR OptiXstar F50 for ultra-broadband backbone, 10G access and all-optical smart home scenarios.

At a 5G presentation at the event, several key executives from the industry came together to address 5.5G.

UAE 5G-advanced

Marwan Bin Shakar, SVP for access network development at e& UAE began with a keynote addressing 5G-advanced and the UAE’s roadmap for advancing 5G development.

He noted that the UAE ranked first in the world for mobile broadband download speed and fourth in fixed broadband speed.

“2023 was a game changer for us where we launched the first private network… and set us on the way for advanced 5G,” he said.

The mobile industry has made “a leap” every 10 years, Shakar said, and he believes that 5G-advanced will begin now and it will enjoy sustained development until 2030.

“I don’t like to mention 6G because I think it’s too early, but [moving forward] we need to have real 6G – that is use cases that will drive 6G requirements,” Shakar added.

He said e& is stepping towards 5G advanced with the activation of underlying technologies including 5G standalone (SA), 5G for Enterprise and field trials of high speeds.

Mohammed Abdulaziz AlNujaidi, engineering executive general manager at Zain KSA was next up to the stage to unveil the strategic implementation guide towards 5G-advanced.

From 2019-2024, there have been several “relentless” initiatives and innovations leveraging 5G, AlNujaidi said. With that, he believes we as an industry are in a prime position to enter into the 5.5G era.

The importance of 5G SA

Rajen Vagadia, vice president of business development for Qualcomm India took to the stage next. He said that 5G SA is the pivotal step to drive 5G evolution.

He described the evolution from 4G to 5G as “seamless” but said that 5G-advanced will offer significant improvements through network slicing and AI/machine learning (ML) – which has been another of the key themes around MWC this year.

“But we can’t get to 5G-advanced without 5G standalone,” he says.

With that said, Vagadia notes that 5G SA is accelerating globally, with 121 operators having deployed or invested in 5G SA technology. He adds that 47 operators in 25 countries have launched public SA networks.

“Yet, there are only a dew SA sites in some networks.”

Vagadia believes that the transition to 5G SA unlocks growth opportunities for businesses and it is a must for several companies moving forward.

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